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West Nile virus present in Island tests

COURTESY PHOTO Known as a vector for the West Nile virus, this Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito has landed on a human finger.
COURTESY PHOTO Known as a vector for the West Nile virus, this Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito has landed on a human finger.

Mosquito samples taken on Shelter Island have tested positive for West Nile virus.

The samples were collected on July 20-21 by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS).
Samples collected on the same dates revealed the presence of West Nile in nine other Suffolk County towns, according to the office of SCDHS Commissioner James Tomarken.

The virus is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The SCDHS said no humans in the county had tested positive this year.

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples … indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” Commissioner Tomarken said. “While there is no cause for alarm, we advise residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”

Some infected people will experience mild or no symptoms, according to the SCDHS, while others can develop “high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.”

Symptoms of some infected people can last a number of weeks, according to the SCDHS, and “neurological effects may be permanent.”

People who are most at risk for the debilitating effects of the virus, such as those over 50 and those with compromised immune systems, are urged to take extra precaution against mosquito bites, the SCDHS advised.

To avoid mosquito bites, the SCDH advises all residents to:
• Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn
• Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitoes are active
• Use mosquito repellent, following label directions carefully
• Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.
• Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs inside and outside of your home
• Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water, such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, discarded tires, buckets, pool covers, birdbaths, trash cans and rain barrels

Dead birds may be a sign of the presence of West Nile in the area. The SCDHS advises residents to call the Public Health Information line at (631) 787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and to take a photograph of the dead bird.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at (631) 852-4270.

For further information on West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website at eupdates.suffolkcountyny.gov/lists/lt.php?id=bBpQX1kEVFAHDBoCAw9WHlJeCg9VCQ%3D%3D.